Draft not without surprises

WEEK OF APRIL 24

The 1995 National Football League draft has come and gone, but not without a lot of surprises. A record 24 trades involving 75 picks were made. Players from schools like Alcorn State (Miss.), Fort Valley State (Geo.) and Central State (Ohio) were all drafted in the first round. Many teams took gambles while some went with sure bets.

One team that took a gamble was Houston, which took Alcorn State quarterback Steve McNair with the third overall pick. The Oilers definitely needed a QB for the future, but McNair may be too raw a player for the NFL.

Yes, he has a strong arm and yes, he's quick, but McNair seems more suited for the wide-open offenses of the Canadian Football League than the more conservative ones of the NFL. However, Houston uses the run-and-shoot or something like; it was tough to tell what was going on during its dismal '94 season so McNair has the experience and the potential to be successful with the Oilers. I don't think Houston could get much worse, anyway, so the pick may eventually pay off.

One of the biggest surprises Saturday had to have been San Francisco trading away its first, third and fourth picks and next year's first-round pick, just to get former UCLA wide receiver J.J. Stokes.

This was a bogus pick for the 49ers if you look at what they gave up to get Stokes, not to mention the ex-Bruin's history of injuries and his lack of great speed. The 'Niners could easily have waited until at least the 15th or 16th pick to get Stokes or could have traded for him after he was drafted and gotten away with giving up fewer picks. Oh well, I guess San Francisco can afford to gamble (see the '95 Super Bowl).

Another team that gambled was Green Bay, which took Arizona State cornerback Craig Newsome with the 32nd pick. Newsome has only two years of college experience and lacks speed. Not to bag on the Sun Devils too hard, but Newsome didn't exactly play for a great team.

The Packers should have opted for Stephen F. Austin cornerback Terence Shaw. Shaw is very quick, an All-Southland Conference pick, and a great deep coverage guy. He had 51 solo tackles and six interceptions in his senior season. The Chargers upgraded a porous secondary (again, see the '95 Super Bowl) and Green Bay got a big question mark.

One person who was not a question mark was Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter. Cincinnati took the runner with the draft's first overall pick by trading away its first- and second-round picks to the Carolina Panthers. Carter will have a Marshall Faulk-type frosh campaign and is a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year at this point.

Some other weekend winners were Washington (wide receiver Michael Westbrook), the St. Louis Rams (defensive end Kevin Carter), Minnesota (defensive end Derrick Alexander) which passed on Warren Sapp and the Jacksonville Jaguars (offensive lineman Tony Boselli and running back James Stewart). Stewart was a surprise pick, especially in that he was chosen before Rashaan Salaam, but

is a good inside runner with the potential to get better.

So what happened to the University of Arizona players?

Well, some of them ended up being surprise picks over the weekend as well.

Kicker Steve McLaughlin was the first player from the UA to be picked. He went to St. Louis. Then came linebacker Sean Harris (Chicago), defensive back Mike Scurlock (St. Louis), and Hicham El-Mashtoub (Houston).

Other Wildcats who were picked up in the free agent market included Mu Tagoai (Dallas), Pulu Poumele and Joe Smigiel (Cleveland), and Warner Smith (Indianapolis).

So Arizona definitely had a good draft, and that will help recruiting and will help substantiate the legitimacy of the football program.

Let's just hope that legitimacy gets Arizona a Rose Bowl appearance and not another disappointing season.

Patrick Moran is a business and public administration senior, and despite what people may think, he is always right. His column appears every Wednesday.

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